In China, the examination and approval procedures for invention patent applications include five stages: acceptance, preliminary examination, publication, substantive examination and authorization. Utility model and design patent applications undergo three stages of acceptance, preliminary examination and authorization. However, in the patent application process, we not only need to know these stages, but also the more detailed legal status.
Patent legal status refers to the current status of a patent or patent application. Especially during the substantive examination of an invention patent application, there exist many different legal statuses.
1. Waiting for request for substantive examination: the applicant has not filed the substantive examination request.
2. Waiting for selection of substantive examination: the preliminary examination fee has been paid, and it is queued to wait for the examination.
3. Entering the substantive examination: entering the substantive examination procedure, which is under examination.
4. Sending out the first office action, waiting for reply: a first office action was issued and the applicant shall respond to it within four months from the receipt date of it. If it was issued for a utility model/design patent application, the time limit of responding to it is two months.
5. Returned case after the first office action for substantive examination: The response to the first office action has been received by CNIPA.
6. Sending out Nth office action, waiting for reply: an Nth office action was issued and the applicant shall respond to it within two months from the receipt date of it.
7. Returned case after the Nth office action for substantive examination: the response to the Nth office action has been received by CNIPA.
8. Deemed to be withdrawn due to overdue, waiting for restoration: the applicant fails to file substantive examination request or fails to file the response of an office action within the specified time limit. And the applicant still can file a restoration request within two months from the receipt date of Notification that Application Deemed to be Withdrawn.
9. Deemed to be withdrawn due to overdue, invalidation: if the applicant still fails to file a restoration request within the specified time limit, the application will be invalided.
10. Rejection, waiting for request for reexamination: the patent application was rejected. The applicant shall file a reexamination request within three months from the receipt date of the Rejection Decision. The applicant also can file a reexamination request along with a restoration request within two months after the expiration of the above three months.
11. Invalidation of rejection: if the applicant still fails to file a restoration request, the status of the patent application will become invalidation.
After the substantive examination, there also exist many legal statuses.
1. Waiting for annual fee and tax: the applicant shall pay the certificate fee (the annual fee and tax) after receiving the Notification to Go Through Formalities of Registration within two months from the receipt date of the notification.
2. Announcement and seal of case: the applicant has paid the patent certificate fee, and CNIPA is preparing the announcement of grant of patent right. The electronic certificate would be normally issued within one month from the payment date.
3. Patent right maintenance: after the grant of patent right, the annual fees shall be paid before the anniversaries of the filing date every year.
4. Waiting for surcharge of annual fee: If the applicant fails to pay the annual fee before the due date, the patent will enter into the six-month penalty period. The first month is free of penalty, and the penalty increases by 5% of the annual fee monthly from the second month.
5. Patent right cessation due to failing to pay the annual fee, waiting for restoration: if the applicant still fails to pay or pay in full the annual fee and the penalty, a Notification of Termination of Patent Right will be issued approximately two months after the expiration of the penalty period. The applicant may a restoration request along with the annual fee and penalty within two months from the receipt date of the notification.
In addition, the inquiry steps of a patent or patent application are as follow:
(1) Log in to the official website: http://cpquery.cnipa.gov.cn/;
(2) Entering the application number, and click “Search”;
(3) Click on basic information, you can check the legal status of the patent/patent application.
Hope above is helpful for someone who is confused about the legal status of a Chinese patent /patent application on the official website.